Location: La Center, Clark County Wash.
Land Agency: Vancouver-Clark County Parks
Roundtrip: 2.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 30 feet
Special Note: Dogs permitted on leash.
Access: From Vancouver, head north on I-5 to Exit 16. Turn right onto La Center Road and proceed for 1.6 miles to the bridge over the East Fork Lewis River. Immediately upon crossing bridge and entering town of La Center turn right on Aspen Ave, then immediately turn right again for trailhead parking near water reclamation plant.
Contact: Vancouver- Clark County Parks
Good to know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly, bird watching, snow free winter hike
The La Center Bottoms is the crown jewel of the 1,000-acre-plus 10-mile long East Fork Lewis River Greenway. Here hikers of all ages and abilities (much of the site is wheelchair accessible) have the opportunity to explore a sprawling wetland saturated with wildlife—especially birds. A National Watchable Wildlife site, La Center Bottoms is a great place for observing birds year round. And during the winter months this is a great place for observing swans.
Start on a paved path swinging to the south of the city’s water treatment plant. Operated by Clark Public Utilities, the utility company along with the city of La Center, TDS Telecom, and private individuals were instrumental in the preservation of the 300-plus acre La Center Bottoms Stewardship Site. Next, the path skirts Sternwheeler Park, a gorgeous manicured city park with sculptures, picnic tables, historic displays and an outdoor amphitheatre. Connecting the city to the bottoms, feel free to roam Sternwheeler’s grounds, especially its stairways leading to nice views overlooking the bottoms.
Continue on the main path crossing Brezee Creek on a little bridge. From here the pavement ends and the way continues graveled. Come to a T-junction shortly afterwards. The path left climbs 70 feet or so up a wooded bluff to terminate at a school. Head right passing some majestic oaks before coming to a bird blind and great view of the sprawling wetland bottoms. On clear days Mount Hood can be seen rising in the horizon. In winter the area becomes a shallow lake harboring hundreds of geese and ducks and a few tundra swans thrown in for good measure! Eagles frequently survey the grounds from surrounding trees.
Walk past the blind and cross a channel on a sturdy bridge. The path continues southward with the bottoms to the east and the East Fork of the Lewis River to the west. At about .6 mile you’ll reach the end of gravel accessible trail. The way however continues for another half mile on a grassy path ending at a fence line on the preserve’s southern boundary.
For more information on La Center Bottoms (and 100 other area hikes) consult my guidebook: Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge
For Information on other family-friendly things to do in and around Clark County, Consult Northwest TripFinder